This article originally appeared on Souciant on November 10th 2016.
A new global bromance has begun: Trump, Putin, Orbán, Kaczynski, Johnson. These powers that be, who now control the planet, could not be more xenophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-woman, anti-queer, and ultranationalist. How could we have ever allowed that to happen? We’re all guilty of permitting the rise of the far right all over the world.
It all started in Eastern Europe. My part of the globe is the hotbed of the concept of the nation: une et indivisible, natural and superior to the others. We’re the goodies to save the world (cf. the perspicacious analysis of Fantasies of Salvation by Vladimir Tismaneanu – in fact, of our own fantasies of self-salvation!).
Here originates the progress of Fichtean hating versus the Kantian hosting of the Other: the philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte won over cosmopolitanism (which he had first professed) to deify the closed notion of nationhood. We, the East European peoples, were only too eager to adopt xenophobia. And remain only too eager: Vladimir Putin is fostering the pure nation to counter the degeneracy of the West. Homosexuality is seen as a foreign deviation. The office of Amnesty International (that Occidental outpost in the Putinesque perception) has just been closed in Moscow.
Hungary has forbidden same-sex marriage in its new constitution. Viktor Orbán is personally witch-hunting the outstanding Jewish philosopher Agnes Heller; Roma institutions and individuals are being attacked.
In Poland, on the market square of Wroclaw’s Old City, an effigy of a traditional Jew was burned. The government has not apologized for this defilement in the public sphere.
In my part of Europe, extremism rules. In Poland, an ugly party, led by a closeted case Jaroslaw Kaczynski, is monopolizing the three powers and colonizing the media. Furthermore, the government has attempted to censor the feminist Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek’s play in Wroclaw. In Russia and Hungary, anti-queer, anti-Semitic, and anti-Roma militias are on the rampage.
Exit democracy. Enter anti-democracy. While the Polish government is openly fighting and killing the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of this country, Trump’s anti-Semitism was in full swing during the American campaign.
I am shocked at the ugly face of Eastern Europe and America. Both regions are poisoned with anti-immigration and anti-minority feelings, homophobia (Orlando!), sexism.
But we’ve gotten used only too quickly to the repressions of Putin, Orban, and Kaczynski. We’ve learned to live with them. Although Poland has staged massive anti-government demonstrations, everyday life goes on.
Donald, Vladimir, Viktor, Jaroslaw, and Boris will frolic in their homosocial dance of extreme-right warriors. Their rule is a ghostly return of prejudices, hate of the Other, lack of hospitality to the so-called strangers. Refugees are being denied entry. Despite encouragement from Pope Francis, the Polish government has not accepted a single asylum-seeker. Hungary has built a border fence against any influx – Trump’s mind is adopting this initiative. Saint Russia scorns the Caucasus and other “Others.” In the sense of Hannah Arendt, Eastern Europe is carrying out the “expulsion from humanity” of the migrants.
Refugees will be more and more unwanted in Trump’s America. The Donald will intensify his othering and abjection of foreigners, women, Jews. He has domesticated us during the campaign. He has won us over by blocking resistance. We couldn’t even believe Trump will win. And here he is In his residential glory: an economic celebrity whom we resent, but would secretly like to emulate for his money and Hegelian cunning.
Our little sadist, our little dictator of The Apprentice, our little hero who has grown huge and has smugly and easily taken control over the United States and of the world. We’ve helped him to succeed as our defiance has died and silence has ensued. We’re becoming his Foucauldian docile bodies. Only a revolt can (self-)save us — in Eastern Europe and in the United States alike.